‘The Idiot’ comes to Florham stage

Michele D’Aries

Contributor

 

“The Idiot,” a 19th century novel by Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky, was chosen as this semester’s play at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Florham Campus.

Professor Stephen Hollis, director of the theater program, said he chose this play because of its appeal to all students. Literature and history majors alike can come together to enjoy it.

Hollis said this is a theatrically effective play, adapted from a serious novel. According to Hollis, it is full of drama, tension and compromise.

This mid-1800s play will have time period costumes representing Russia during this period in history. The stage will be simple, yet suggestive so that the audience can imagine the settings as well.

Prince Lev Nikolayevich Myshkin, played by Jesse Lab, is the main character and made to be a “Christ-like figure.” Senior Savannah Lloyd, assistant director, said the play is “a story of broken souls and their struggle for belonging.” As Hollis said, this is something to which everyone can relate.

Hollis received a scholarship for young directors from the Arts Council of Great Britain, where he trained for a year. “The only way to learn is to get thrown into it,” he said.

He said you have to learn to be a team member and spot talent, as well as learn to guide and sculpt the actors of the performance. Hollis fell in love with Manhattan and decided to stay in America. Now he is fully immersed in the FDU theater program.

Hollis explained how helpful Lloyd has been throughout the process. Lloyd did the research on the social background of this time period in Russia.

Lloyd’s first experience with directing was in her high school drama club. After coming to FDU, she first worked with Hollis during her sophomore year after being cast as the lead in “Much Ado About Nothing.”

She explained how Hollis has been a mentor to her and said she is honored to work alongside him for this play.

Lloyd noted that she loves this story because “it challenges the one thing that continues to plague the human race: money.”

The question is: can Prince Lev Nikolayevich Myshkin, as a truly good and pure character, survive in the world?

While everyone will walk around with a different feeling about the play, Lloyd suggested, “We should always strive to find the redeeming qualities of even the most flawed people, but not for the sake of self-sacrifice.”

“The Idiot” is being performed in Dreyfuss Theater through May 7.

Shows begin at 8 p.m. today through Saturday and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets cost $5 for the FDU community.

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